Construction of national highways reached its highest in February, when the Centre developed 42.03 kilometres of highways per day, according to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ (MoRTH) data. However, this number was over 7 per cent lower than the same period last year, when 1361 km were constructed.

So far, the Centre has constructed 8064 kms of highways this fiscal. This figure comes as the fiscal year nears its end, with MoRTH needing approximately 4,000 kms of development to meet its FY23 target, which is widely understood as unrealistic.

The Centre’s FY23 construction levels are a fraction higher than the previous fiscal, which happened through sizable leaps in the months of November, December, and January (see chart).

Since November, construction has been upward of 33 kms per day.

Earlier in the year, senior officials had said that longer-than-usual monsoons had dampened highway creation in the first half, which is being offset now. Contractual issues had also slowed highway construction during that period.

Highway growth typically picks up pace in the second half of the year, with increased infrastructure spending and weather conditions favouring construction.

With a month left, this data indicates that the ministry’s national highway creation numbers may be close to FY22 levels, where 10,237 km of highways were constructed by the end of the fiscal.

Meanwhile, MoRTH, through its executing agencies such as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), has only been able to award 7,497 km of highway projects in FY23, which is 121 km lower than the previous fiscal.

According to the data, the ministry is focusing on fast land acquisition to expedite execution in many highway projects. MoRTH issued a total of 197 land acquisition notifications in February, in which it paid Rs 451 crore as compensation for land.

During the month, 59 projects spanning a length of over 1700 km with a capital outlay of Rs 55,322 crore were also appraised by the ministry’s standing finance committee.

Month FY22 Construction FY23 Construction Change
April 853 578 -32.24%
May 617 729 18.15%
June 814 659 -19.04%
July 643 527 -18.04%
August 428 419 -2.10%
September 469 647 37.95%
October 726 501 -30.99%
November 568 706 24.30%
December 717 1008 40.59%
January 849 1029 21.20%
February 1361 1261 -7.35%
Total 8045 8064 0.24%

Source: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways *All units in kilometres